Jewish holidays begin in the evening, and this year the first night of Hanukkah is also Christmas Eve—an occurrence that has only happened four times (!) in the last 100 years. From a religious perspective, your family may pick and choose which ceremonies and traditions you want to observe. From a culinary perspective, this occurrence provides a fun opportunity to engage kids while preparing your Hanukkah/Christmas meal.
The French dessert croquembouche, meaning “cracks in your mouth,” is a traditional tree of cream puffs glistening with thin strands of spun sugar draped over the puffs to resemble tinsel on a tree. This confection was created in the late 1700s by French chef Antoine Careme and was served at elaborate, festive occasions.
Since spun sugar is hazardous in young children’s hands, I created this safe and delicious recipe that combines the culinary traditions of an edible Christmas tree with fried doughnuts, or sufganiot, commemorating the oil that lasted eight days in the destroyed temple that was recaptured by the Maccabees.
8-inch base or plate with 8-inch interior
Angled spatula or table knife
1. Place a dab of frosting on one edge of a donut hole and place icing-side down on the outside of the center of your plate. Continue until you make a ring, and then fill in the ring. (This will probably take around 21 donut holes.)
2. Continue spreading a dab of frosting onto each hole and placing them on top of one another to make a tapered pyramid of doughnut holes. You should have around five layers, with one or two on the top to create a point.
3. Using your angled spatula or knife, dab frosting randomly all over the tree, pulling the knife quickly away to create “icicles.”
4. Before frosting sets, sprinkle sugar crystals or candy balls all over the tree; they will stick to the frosting.
5. When ready to eat, pull apart from the top down.